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Being Lean and Seen: Meeting the challenges of delivering projects successfully in the 21st century

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BeingL_S (Being Lean and Seen: Meeting the challenges of delivering projects successfully in the 21st century)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31

The advancement of project management (PM) knowledge and the development of PM capability of people is crucial to the successful delivery of projects. As the overall project-related spending in the EU is assumed to be about € 3.27 trillion there are huge societal and economic challenges of reducing the massive financial and psychological costs of poor project delivery. Our programme is designed to put building blocks in place to enable PM to respond to the challenges it faces in delivering projects successfully in the 21st century. It does this by taking a multi-disciplinary perspective encompassing PM, lean management, psycho-social aspects, innovation and change management. The building blocks comprise three broad pillars: one focused on PM efficiency (being Lean), one on PM systems that meet the psycho-social needs of project staff (being Seen) and one on making PM responsive to the need of organisations to be innovative and manage change (being Lean and Seen). Different contexts of project delivery in developed and developing countries are included to reflect the global and interconnectedness nature of projects. A network of five academic and five non-academic partners collaborate to deliver the holistic PM framework to guide project delivery in the future. The role of different PM practices, contexts, system design and delivery are explored through in-depth reviews of the literatures, secondary data sources, cross-sectional surveys, case studies, focus groups, Delphi and interviews. Innovation will take place by bringing together the knowledge of theoretical perspectives from different disciplines, which largely reside in the academic partners, with the practical knowledge of project environments, largely residing in the non-academic partners, to develop the holistic framework. Work is organised through seven work packages listed below and progress is ongoing:

1 Project development and management
2 Trends and Challenges for Project Management in the 21st Century
3 Lean Project Management
4 Psycho-Social Aspects in Project Management
5 Management of Innovation and Change Projects
6 Adapting Systems to Developing Countries
7 Holistic Framework for Project Management in the 21st Century

In meeting this overall objective the project is currently on track to:
• Clearly articulate the challenges to the successful delivery of projects in forms that are both understandable to, and actionable by, the wider PM community;
• Investigate the role of relevant management practices (i.e. lean, agile, maturity modelling, psycho-social interventions, innovation and collaborative methods) in tackling the challenges to the successful delivery of projects;
• Analyse distinctions in PM system design and delivery within the context of developed and developing countries;
• Provide evidence-based guidelines, recommendations and specifications for the mix of management practices required for effective and efficient PM;
• Promote a multi-disciplinary perspective, encompassing lean management, psycho-social aspects, innovation and change management in the design and implementation of PM systems and in the development of PM Bodies of Knowledge.
A total of 73 months of staff visits will take place between M0 and M48, to date 24 months have been completed in WP's 2,3,4,5 with the majority being completed in the latter 2 years of the project (2019 and 2020). This timetable of secondments ensures that carefully planned staff visits between participating organisations use shared resources and learn from each other; workshops bring together different participating organisations to discuss the results achieved at different stages of the programme; a conference towards the end of the programme that involves academic and non-academic experts from outside the programme; and delivery of training programmes develop not only the directly involved staff from each organisation but also others, e.g. PhD research students.
Continued implementation of the WP’s through staff visits enables research and knowledge sharing in relation to the topics of innovation and change, as a fundamental piece of the jigsaw in developing a PM framework to be Lean and Seen. Bringing together an international and multidisciplinary team of researchers with a wide variety of skills in research and practice relating to being Lean and being Seen in projects is already helping to identify and tackle the major challenges faced in delivering projects successfully in the 21st century, both today and in the future. Such challenges require specialist knowledge, innovative, cost-effective and sustainable solutions and will benefit from the continued collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach. The proposed research is beginning to uncover fundamentals of PM and anticipates their application in different country contexts i.e. developed and developing countries and in different industry contexts, such as infrastructure, construction, engineering and IT.

Data collection achieved to M24:
WP2 – Trends & Challenges - Data collection completion of interviews with 52 individual experienced PM’s between April 2017 and May 2018 (M4-M17). Analysis of the initial survey data is available on the RISE Being Lean & Seen website. An Executive Summary following analysis of 52 interviews provides some headline messages that has been presented at conferences in UK, Germany and Malaysia. A second survey was launched July 2018 based on responses from the initial survey and interviews and has yielded 252 responses (target 300). Together with a literature review on Trends and Challenges completed Summer 2018 (M18), all data from time point 1 has been analysed and is informing the strategy and mechanisms of data collection for time point (T2), which is due to start in early 2019.
WP3 – Lean Project Management – Data collection completion of 41 interviews and a focus group including data from the UK and Germany. Data collection and analysis is ongoing.
WP4 – Psycho-social aspects – Data collection began in June (M18), and 31 interviews across a variety of organisations have been completed. Analysis is underway and the next stage will be to take the methodology further, moving to purposive sampling and using a case study approach to investigate and observe the possible application of soft skills, in order to improve PM practice.
WP5 – Innovation & Change – 15 interviews, 4 workshops and 2 case studies have been completed. The secondments and associated workshops have enabled partners to discuss and understand how ambidexterity operates within both a strategic and operational level, to support both management and functional PM practice for the purposes of innovation and change. Ongoing data and analysis is underway.
The expected impact of this project is three-fold as it is expected that it will have practical as well as theoretical implications.
a) The challenges of project management in the 21st century will be identified. This will enable private and public clients to design the project set up in order to meet these challenges.
b) A holistic framework to manage projects will be developed. This will equip the PM professionals with a skillset which enables them to deliver projects efficiently and effectively.
c) This holistic framework will give academics access to up-to-date research results and will enable them to build on these in order to achieve a further enhancement of the PM research.